Sunday, October 21, 2012

Some In DC Want Cameras to Target Maryland and Virginia

In a debate among candidates for DC council, council member Michael Brown argued that speed cameras should be place for the specific purpose of targeting Maryland and Virgina residents, demonstrating that one of the motives for camera enforcement by DC is to create a de facto commuter tax on visitors to the nation's capital.. From WTOP.Com:
DC Council Member Michael Brown
 "If the cameras are going to be anywhere, let's at least put them on the fringes of the city so we can get the Maryland and Virginia folks to pay those fines rather than us," Brown said.

When the moderator pointed out that 65 percent of the fines are already issued to Maryland and Virginia drivers, Brown replied, "What's wrong with 100 percent of those being from Maryland and Virginia?"

The correct level for fine from DC's cameras has been a matter of much dispute lately.  A plan floated by some council members to lower the fines in DC hit a snag when Mayor Gray expressed that he would need to see a fiscal impact statement before considering it; "Someone is going to have to demonstrate how it would be paid for, so that's the first question,"  According to WTOP.com, Gray said in order to lower the fines and maintain a balanced budget, that revenue would have to come from somewhere else.  Mayor Gray reiterated this sentiment to WJLA news.

DC earned $85million in photo enforcement revenues in the fiscal year ending in September 2012, with the city running a budget surplus.

One council member, Yvette Alexander, had previously argued to the Washington City Paper that camera fines should be raised to $1000

In other DC news, a police whistleblower within DC's speed camera program claimed he was reassigned after he filed a complaint that a manager in the program had misused funds, failed to rescind defective tickets, and improperly voided legitimate tickets.  “I have been forced to remain in a detailed position because I adhered to the District of Columbia Ethics Manual and reported waste, fraud and illegal conduct to the appropriate authorities,” Sgt. Robinson said.

Earlier this year, a former officer in DC's photo enforcement program plead guilty to falsifying camera deployment and calibration logs, and was forced to pay the cost of refunding citations.